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Its “Cool” To Be Kind

Arlene Freeman Author Interview

Cool Kids follows a young boy who becomes a bully to earn a spot on the football team, but when terrible things happen to him he wonders if it’s worth it. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My father was my inspiration. He was a great storyteller. It was a time when television was first becoming popular; however, not everyone could afford one. Storytelling still attracted the children on the block and they could not wait to hear the stories about a character he created, Ruffy Butchbang. Ruffy Butchbang was a bully who always got in to trouble. It was the only way he could feel important. In every story my dad told, there was a lesson learned. Each story was so exciting because my dad added his special sound effects. This character, Ruffy Butchbang was embedded in my memory. I too told stories about Ruffy to my children and grandchildren. My sons Ted and Eric knew my father but my grandchildren never did. However, they knew who created Ruffy Butchbang, Grandpa Harry. Now that bullying is a subject in today’s society, it seems perfect to bring Ruffy Buthbang back into the spotlight, and so I created Cool Kids.

How can your book help children, parents and teachers with bullying?

I think Cool Kids offers families and educators a great teaching opportunity. It offers them the perfect opportunity to help a children understand their emotions and social dynamics involved in bullying. It open the door for many conversations, whether your child is bullied or bullying. It allows for different discussions and outcomes and steps to take in various situations. Cool Kids shows kids that changing your behavior to become a bully in order to fit in isn’t being cool. Be true to yourself. It shows that there is a power in kindness and its “cool” to be kind. Discussions about this subject is a great way for families to have an open dialogue with their children.

The art in this book was fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Amelina Jones?

After I wrote my story, I needed an illustrator. Mascot Books sent me the sample works of various illustrators. I chose the one who best fit my story. The drawings of Amelina Jones were perfect. She sent me drawings for each character for approval, even my beagle and matched the characters to the script. We made changes because I did not realize things could be inferred and not need to be seen. We communicated with each other through Mascot Books. When all was said and done, I almost did not see a drastic error. Amelina Jones was from the United Kingdom. My story involved football and she drew a soccer ball. Well, that had to be changed to an American football and it was just in time! She also added her personal touches and I loved it. I must say, I was lucky to work with such a talented illustrator.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have thought about a second book about RUFFY BUTCHBANG and his adventures, still involving the same characters. In each story, there needs to be a lesson learned. I am thinking about the twists and turns that will take place so teachers and families can have continued dialogue and children will love it. I am a former school teacher so I know that communication between adults and children is so important. The paper and pencil is right by my bedside ready for creative ideas. It will ,come not sure of exact dates.

Author Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Winner of the 2021 Family Choice Award
Like most kids, Michael and his friends are so excited for their first day at a new school. They have a lot of questions about what to expect, but most of all, they wonder if theyll get to join the football team. That would be the perfect way to start the year! However, Michael soon finds out that its not as easy as he thinks. The team is filled with bullies, and to join, he has to become one of them. In order to be cool enough to get a spot on the football team, Michael has to start changing his behaviorfor the worse! Suddenly, terrible things start happening to him. Finally, he begins to wonder: Was it all worth it?

Cool Kids

Michael is excited to start the year at his new school. He is going into 4th grade with two of his best friends. Together they all dream of playing football at this new school like they did last year. Michael makes several new friends in the first few weeks of school, and they all get along great. One day, Michael sees some boys playing football, and they will not let him join in. He is not one of the ‘cool kids.’ Disappointed, Michael decides to find a way to get into the cool kid’s group. Unfortunately, he learns that he must be mean and become a bully to be part of this group. Michael starts seeing himself as a monster and questions if being cool is worth it.

Cool Kids by Arlene Freeman takes a serious topic of bullying and presents it in a way that older elementary grade kids can understand and relate to. As a parent, I have witnessed bullying from this age group multiple times, and I think addressing it at this age level is vital for teaching just how harmful it can be to others. Kids will be able to relate to Michael and his desire to fit in and join others that are doing the activities he wants to do. I am impressed with how the author shows readers the ugly side of bullying. Being a bully makes you feel ugly inside, even when you look like the cool kid on the outside.

The artwork by Amelina Jones brings the story to life with detailed emotions for the characters and a style that fits between whimsy watercolors and graphic novel imagery. Children will enjoy the bright colors and realistic representations of a day in school. For younger kids who can’t read all the words yet, the images do a fantastic job of telling the story independently.

The theme of friendship and acceptance is just as strong as bullying in this children’s book. Michael is not the only kid to learn the real meaning of ‘cool kids,’ and seeing that people can change is helpful for this age group. It is a good reminder that sometimes we all make bad choices and that we can fix things by apologizing and making good choices after.

Cool Kids is a feel-good children’s book for elementary-level kids. Dealing with topics that kids struggle with at this age and presented in an approachable and relevant manner, this makes an excellent book for classrooms and caregivers to discuss the issues of bullying, kindness, and friendship.

Pages: 38 | ASIN : B09L5LKSST

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